The Causal Effects of Rural-to-Urban Migration on Children’s Wellbeing in China

Hongwei Xu, University of Michigan
Yu Xie, University of Michigan

China’s rural-to-urban migration has affected 12.6 million school-age rural children who have migrated with their parents and another 22 million who have been left behind by their migrant parents. While much work has been devoted to assessing the consequences of migration for the huge number of children involved in China’s ongoing large-scale migration process, not enough is known, either theoretically or empirically about the causal impact of migration on children’s wellbeing. We conceptualize a two-step model to understand the causal impact of migration on children. We draw upon data from the Chinese Family Panel Studies, a nationally representative, annual longitudinal survey of Chinese communities, families, and individuals launched in 2010. We pool the origin-destination child samples to form appropriate comparisons. We apply propensity score matching methods to estimate the average treatment effects for the treated. Our preliminary results highlight the mixed effects of migration on children’s objective and subjective wellbeing.

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Presented in Session 27: International and Domestic Migration, Children and Families